Reaching new heights is something that Frank van den Berg continues to do, but helping others reach their peak is something that he was born to do.
Frank first got involved with Special Olympics in 2010 as a member of Team Alberta, providing mental training and support services for the team during the Games in London, Ont.
His passion for the movement and his experiences with the team have motivated him to stay involved. He once again joined Team Alberta in 2013 and worked with the swimmers that represented Canada at the World Games 2019.
“It is very gratifying when I can support the Special Olympics sport community with my expertise, guidance, and leadership,” says Frank. “For close to 25 years, I’ve had the privilege to expand my professional career in working with so many provincial, national, Olympic and Paralympic sports, champions and performers, for me, volunteering with Special Olympics Alberta is my way of paying back my passion, experience and gratitude.”
Over the past two years, Frank van den Berg has inspired our members to keep trekkin’ through dedicated virtual training sessions designed for Special Olympics athletes and coaches.
In 2020, he created and facilitated a four-part Coach Development Series virtually to over 100 coaches that addressed pandemic realities and psychological hygiene, communication practices in coaching, conflict management and defusing, and applying mental training in the coaching practice.
The course made a huge impact on our coaches and Frank believes that these types of sessions will not only benefit coaches, but the learnings will also help shape how we structure training sessions for athletes through programs like PEAK.
“In my philosophy, I’m usually at my best in working with athletes when I can find good and effective collaboration with the coaches. They are the ultimate leaders of their teams, and I want to be in support of that. Our interactions enable me to better understand their coaching approaches, realities and challenges, which I can use to tailor my approach to the athletes better.”
Frank has been instrumental in running the PEAK Program, which was designed to help athletes stay active, healthy, and connected at home.
Since its inception in 2020, Frank has facilitated over 15 mindfulness sessions for more than 1000 athletes across the province.
His sessions focus on mental fitness skills and strategies along with conversations with our athletes to check on them throughout their journey to the PEAK.
“The PEAK Program is hugely important for the athletes to connect with each other, albeit virtually, and benefit from the variety of healthy activities and to learn skills and strategies that they may otherwise not always have the time and opportunity for,” says Frank. “I very much appreciated the way the PEAK Program was set up for 8 weeks with different degrees of difficulty in accomplishing goals and how their participation was made attainable, recognized on the Facebook page, and rewarded with points and kudos."
Frank is set to return for our sixth season which begins on May 9th, and you can get involved as an athlete or volunteer to facilitate sessions.
It’s all so very doable, worthwhile, gratifying, and fun,” says Frank. “We get to teach our expertise, show our support and encouragement, which in turn is greatly reciprocated by the athletes, coaches, and staff with their learning, participation, and enjoyment.”
Frank is excited to continue his journey with Special Olympics and advocates that getting involved is fun and rewarding:
“This has offered me countless experiences I will never forget, whether it was about actually accomplishing desired sport performances, working through challenges, or simply having fun doing it together.”
April 24-30 marks National Volunteer Week, and this year we want to emphasize how important our volunteers are to us by spotlighting them throughout the week.
Visit https://www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/abvolunteer-week/ to see all our profiles and share a message with a volunteer who has made an impact in your life using our Twitter message board.
If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to begin your journey with Special Olympics Alberta!